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Kevin Terry wrote:

Mike,

I'm a Methodist, thinking about joining the Church. I am going to the Catholic Church service this weekend, and I am going to be talking to the priest, hopefully this weekend.

I had a couple of questions or requests, if you don't mind. First, I read on your Apologetic site a while back, the section about where Jesus tells Peter that He is the rock, and that He will build His Church on him. I'm not sure of the exact Scripture passage.

I know how a lot of people try to argue and say that Jesus called him a pebble, or whatever.

There was a great explanation of this that someone wrote. It was about how Jesus was giving Peter a three-cord compliment, etc. If you know what I am talking about, and can find it, please send it to me, or direct me to it.

  • Also, is it necessary to go through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults RCIA if you move to a different state and therefore join a new parish?

Thanks for your help, as always.

I hope you are doing well, and have a good week.

Later,

Kevin Terry

  { Is Peter the rock or the pebble and if you move to a new state, do you have to go through RCIA ? }

Mike replied:

Hi Kevin,

In reference to RCIA :

Whether in one state or another, you have to go through RCIA , and you should probably go totally in one parish or another. The pastor should be able to guide you appropriately or inform you of any exceptions.

I've CC'd my good friend Bob Centamore for his opinion.

The Catholic Church is different from the denominations of our separated brethren. In these denominations, most of the time, you have an altar call, and then they teach you about the faith of their denomination.

The Catholic Church wants the new member to know what the Faith is first, before one makes a commitment and statement of faith, a statement of faith that, like the martyrs, one would be willing to die for.

  • How can any Christian be expected to die for a faith they don't know?

This is why RCIA is important. I will get back to you on Peter.

Take care,

Mike

Bob Centamore replied:

Hi Kevin,

I'm Bob Centamore, a friend of Mike Humphrey. I could not be more pleased to hear you are considering becoming Catholic; I highly recommend it.

Mike and I share a passion for the Truth and the Catholic Church, which we believe is the fullness of Truth as the Lord has revealed it to mankind.

The Catholic Church is the same around the world and is made up of several different Rites.
The "Roman" Catholic Church is really the Latin Rite Church, along with several other Rite churches like:

  • the Chaldean Rite
  • the Maronite Rite
  • the Ambrosian Rite
  • the Bulgarian Rite, and
  • several more.

All these Rites, the Latin "Roman" Rite being the largest, are in communion with the Holy See
(the Pope) and are Catholic. So any Catholic from any part of the world could worship legitimately at any parish in these Rites.

So once a Catholic, always a Catholic, unless, of course, you renounce the Faith. That said, one "dose" of RCIA is enough, but formation takes a lifetime; we are pilgrims "on the Way", after all.

To your second point, where you said in part,

"Jesus was giving Peter a three-cord compliment",

I'm not sure what you mean by that, but I bet Mike will give you the background of:

  • whom Peter is
  • why we have a Pope, and
  • what the name change means.

I would, however, like to add a comment about name changes, as found in the Scriptures.

Peter's preeminent position among the Apostles was symbolized at the very beginning of his relationship with Christ. At their first meeting, Christ told Simon that his name would thereafter be Peter, which translates as Rock (John 1:42).

The startling thing was, that — aside from the single time that Abraham is called a "rock" (Hebrew: sur; Aramaic: Kepha) in Isaiah 51:1-2 — in the Old Testament, only God was called a rock. The word rock was not used as a proper name in the ancient world. If you were to turn to a companion and say,

"From now on your name is Asparagus,"

people would wonder,

  • Why Asparagus?
  • What is the meaning of it?
  • What does it signify?

  • Indeed, why call Simon the fisherman "Rock"?

Christ was not given to meaningless gestures, and neither were the Jews, as a whole, when it came to names. Giving a new name meant that the status of the person was changed, as when:

  • Abram's name was changed to Abraham (Genesis 17:5)
  • Jacob's to Israel (Genesis 32:28)
  • Eliakim's to Joakim (2 Kings 23:34), and
  • the names of the four Hebrew youths — Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah — were changed to Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. (Daniel 1:6-8)

But no Jew had ever been called Rock.

If you have questions or comments about any of the above, please feel free to contact me.

Under His Mercy,

Bob Centamore

Mary Ann replied:

Hey Mike,

You give RCIA too much credit. Usually it is doctrinally deficient. I read that half of the converts through RCIA revert to their previous state within a short time. It may have been about the nation or about one diocese — I forget which.

I am not surprised. I know in our local RCIA , a leader was showing people traditional Church music, and she picked the guitar music of the 60's. She is now singing breathy torch songs in our local parish, when she is not leading a pickup band, playing the ridiculous 60's songs.

Mary Ann

Mike followed-up:

Hi Kevin,

We have a Pope because it was Jesus' wish to have a human servant, an icon of unity, to serve His Church, and keep the Christian Faith He founded intact for His believers. The Papacy,
as Pope Benedict XVI has said, is not a monarchy. It's also not a dictatorship. It's the Pope's role
to listen to the voice of Christ and to:

  • safeguard and protect that which cannot change in Christian teaching, and
  • address new morally ambiguous issues that arise in our contemporary times.

Catholic Christians believe in the words of Jesus when He said:

13 And Jesus came into the quarters of Cæsarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? 14 But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am? 16 Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answering said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.* 19 And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.* 20 Then he commanded his disciples, that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ.

Matthew 16:13.

I was a little surprised that we haven't answered the "false interpretations of Matthew 16:13-20" in our CPATS/AskACatholic knowledge base yet.

I found three sources below that will be helpful in understanding the Church's Teachings on the Pope and Papacy. The Catholic Answers article below titled "Peter the Rock", is probably the best. The second article by James Akin, and the Holy Quotes below, are also good.

Mike

From Catholic Answers @ catholic.com

From our knowledge base:

The Primacy of Peter
Isaiah 22:15-25
Prophecy of the Catholic Papacy foretold in the Old Testament.
Matthew 16:13-19
Upon this rock (Peter) I will build my Church. And the gates of Hell can never overpower it.
Note: Our Protestant brethren will say to understand Matthew 16:18, we have to get behind the English to the Greek. They will go on to say in Greek, the word for rock is petra, which means a large, massive stone. The word used for Simon’s new name is different; it’s petros, which means a little stone, a pebble.

In order to give the proper Catholic reply to Matthew 16:18, we have to get behind the Greek argument to the Aramaic.

Although we don't know if the original Biblical manuscripts were in Aramaic or not, many scholars believe Our Lord probably spoke Aramaic because it was the native tongue for Jesus' immediate disciples. In Aramaic there is only one word for rock: Kepha. So he would have said:

"Blessed are you Simon bar Jonah, for flesh and blood have not revealed this to you but my Heavenly Father. So I say to you thou are Kepha and upon this Kepha I will build My Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against [it|Her]."

The only manuscripts we have of Matthew are written in Greek but Greek scholars — even non-Catholic ones — admit, the words petros and petra  were synonyms in first century Greek. They meant small stone and large rock in some ancient Greek poetry, centuries before the time of Christ, but that distinction had disappeared from the language by the time Matthew’s Gospel was rendered in Greek. The difference in meaning can only be found in Attic Greek, but the New Testament was written in Koine Greek — an entirely different dialect. In Koine Greek, both petros and petra simply meant rock.

If Jesus had wanted to call Simon a small stone, the Greek lithos would have been used.
Matthew 16:19
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.
Mark 6:7
Angel sent to announce the Resurrection to Peter.
Luke 22:32
Peter's faith will strengthen his brethren.
          Note: The word you [I have prayed for you.]
          The Greek is in the personal tense, not the plural like:
          All you Apostles.
Luke 24:34
Risen Jesus first appeared to Peter.
John 21:17
Given Christ's flock as chief shepherd.
Acts 1:13-26
Peter headed meeting which elected Matthias to replace Judas.
Acts 2:14
Peter received the first converts.
Acts 3:6-7
Peter performed the first miracle after Pentecost.
Acts 5:1-11
Peter's words inflict deadly punishment on Ananias and Saphira.
Acts 8:21
Peter excommunicated the first heretic, Simon Magnus.
Acts 10:44-46
Peter received a revelation to admit the Gentiles into the Church.
Acts 15
Peter led the first Catholic council in Jerusalem.
Acts 15:7-12
Peter spoke saying: "My brothers, he said, .... But we believe that we are saved in the same way as they are: through the grace of the Lord Jesus." The entire assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul describing all the signs and wonders God had worked through them among the gentiles."

Peter pronounces the first dogmatic decision.

Galatians 1:18
After his conversion, Paul visits the chief Apostle.

Matthew 10:1-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16, Acts 1:13
Peter's name always heads the list of Apostles.

Matthew 18:21, Mark 8:29, Luke 12:41, John 6:69
Peter spoke for the Apostles.

Luke 9:32, Mark 16:7
Peter and his companions.

Peter is mentioned 191 times in the New Testament. All the other Apostles names combined are mentioned only 130 times. And the most commonly referenced apostle apart from Peter is John, whose name appears 48 times.

Interested in what the very first Christians thought, taught, and died for?
Check out what they said on this topic.

 

Apostolic Succession
2 Chronicles 19:11
High priest is over you in everything of the Lord's.
Malachi 2:7
Seek instruction from a priest, he is God's messenger.
Acts 1:20-22
Let someone else take over his office. Out of the men who have been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was living with us, from the time when John was baptizing until the day when he was taken up from us, one must be appointed to serve with us as a witness to His Resurrection.
Acts 1:25-26
Matthias takes Judas' Apostolic ministry.
Acts 14:23
They appointed presbyters in each church.
1 Corinthians 12:28-29
God designated in the Church, Apostles, prophets, and teachers.
Ephesians 2:20
Church is built on the foundation of Apostles and prophets.
Ephesians 4:11
God gave some as Apostles, some as prophets.
1 Timothy 3:1, 8; 1 Timothy 5:17
Qualifications for bishops, priests and deacons.
1 Timothy 4:14
Gift conferred with the laying on of hands.
1 Timothy 5:22
Do not lay hands too readily on anyone.
2 Timothy 2:2
What you heard from me, entrust to faithful teachers.
Titus 1:5
Appoint presbyters in each town, as I directed.

Interested in what the very first Christians thought, taught, and died for?
Check out what they said on this topic.
Hope this helps,

Mike

Kevin replied:

Dear Mike and Bob,

Thank you for your answers; they were very helpful and educational. What I was trying to get out of the Peter question is this:

I know Catholics say that Jesus called Peter "the rock", and said He would build His Church upon him, but I know some denominations immediately fire back that Jesus was really calling Peter
"a pebble", or "small smooth stone", saying that He (Jesus) would build the Church upon Himself.

Even as a devout Protestant, I never thought that made much sense, and now I really don't.

What I was talking about with the three cord compliment is that, I heard from a Catholic, I think on the CPATS web site, that Jesus was complimenting Peter with one thing, and then another, and then finally calling him "the rock", and said He would build His Church upon him. So it wouldn't make much sense for Jesus to say one good thing about Peter, and then another, and then end it by calling him "a pebble".

Hope all this doesn't sound too confusing, but I was just trying to get a better grasp on this topic.

Thanks for all the help, and God Bless you.

Kevin Terry

Bob Centamore replied:

Hi Kevin,

I hope you read the information Mike referred to in his reply about the name change, especially from Catholic Answers about petra vs. petros and the Greek vs. Aramaic, etc.

You said:
So it wouldn't make much sense for Jesus to say one good thing about Peter, and then another, and then end it by calling him "a pebble".

Don't forget Jesus rebuked Peter in Mark 8:33,

"But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, 'Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God,
but the things of men.' "

So Peter was a man like the rest of us in that he could make personal mistakes, but was given a special grace by Jesus to not teach error. To restate it, Peter was infallible when teaching about Faith and Morals. So Papal personal sin was, and still is, possible, but this promise to teach infallibly was given to Peter and his successors, and this promise made by the Lord is one of the main strengths of the Catholic Church. We call this teaching arm of the Church the Magisterium. There were some popes that did bad things, especially around the year 1000 A.D., but they still did not teach error.

Further questions [and/or] comments are welcome.

Under His Mercy,

Bob C.

Kevin replied:

Bob,

I totally agree with what you are saying, and know that Peter wasn't above making mistakes or being rebuked by our Lord. What I was saying, was what I had heard. In the Scriptures, Jesus gave Peter two compliments and then a third, calling him a rock as a spoke of building the Church.

It would be like me saying,

"Hey Bob, you are smart, a great writer, you have terrible grammar, and I want to base my newspaper on your work."

I don't know if that makes it easier or not. I think I opened Mike's e-mail, but haven't had time to read it fully yet. I truly appreciate your help though, and hope I can throw some questions your way if I need help.

I met with my RCIA Director this morning, and if everything goes as planned, I will be joining the Church at the Easter Vigil. I think that is what she called it.

Hope you have a good week.

Thanks and God Bless you.

Kevin Terry

Bob Centamore replied:

Hi Kevin,

Yep, the Easter Vigil (Mass) is generally the time Catechumens (and often candidates) enter the Catholic Church. The reason Mike CC'd your question to me is because I helped start and was Director of RCIA in my parish.

I have heard many bad things about other RCIA programs, and more often than not, RCIA programs were not very good. They tended to gloss over "difficult" areas and watered down the Faith. That was a couple of years back, so hopefully things have changed. I know nothing about your RCIA Director or the particular process you are about to enter, but if you have questions or think there is problem, please feel free to contact me.

This Church you are about to enter is a beautiful thing, and I don't want you to get a distorted view of it at the start of your journey.

I'm sure you're very busy now, but I wanted to mention I have a copy of an article about Peter being the rock, etc. If you don't get a chance to look at Mike's stuff, let me know if you want me to send it to you via e-mail.

Under His Mercy,

Bob C.

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